Yorkshire care home boss 'considering' keeping on unvaccinated staff after deadline

The managing director of a company which runs four Yorkshire care homes said he may need to keep on employees who have not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 after the Government makes it a legal requirement for all care workers in November.

The Government’s own best estimate states 40,000 care home staff risk being lost as a result of the mandatory jab policy and it could cost the industry £100m to replace them.

Mike Padgham, of Saint Cecilia's Care Group, said providers are in an “impossible” position because they are already dealing with a nationwide shortage of workers and they could “run out of staff” if the Government presses ahead with its mandatory jab policy.

He added: “I'm taking some advice, to see if you can still use them in an emergency, if you've run out of staff, because there's a recruitment crisis in social care at the moment. It's a national shortage.

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“I’m considering it, I haven’t actually made a final decision.

Mike Padgham, managing director of Saint Cecilia's Care Group,

“The issue for us is staff are needed in the NHS and social care because we've got a tough winter coming up. If you haven't got the staff, how do you deliver services? It’s not like we can shut up shop.”

Care workers have to get their first vaccine by September 15 and be double jabbed by November 11 or be banned from entering care homes in England, unless they are medically exempt.

The Care Quality Commission will be responsible for enforcing the new rules and says it will respond on “a proportionate basis” and treat each case individually.

The Government’s own best estimate states 40,000 care home staff risk being lost as a result of this policy and it could cost the industry £100m to replace them.

In Yorkshire and the North East, the latest NHS figures show 10,758 employees in older adult care homes have not been fully vaccinated and 5,204 have not even had one dose.

Trade unions claim the new policy could lead to an exodus of staff and widespread care home closures. They are now urging the Government to concentrate on persuading hesitant workers of the benefits of having the jab rather than resorting to threats and ultimatums.

Mr Padgham said the industry already is struggling to hire people for “low paying highly skilled jobs” and Brexit has exacerbated the recruitment crisis because the next points-based immigration system discourages applications from people who are deemed to be “low skilled”.

He also believes the mandatory jab policy is “putting people off” filling the current vacancies and those who are currently working in the profession feel “singled out”, because there are no plans to make jabs mandatory for care home visitors and residents and NHS workers.

“You've got the position where a resident in a care home could go into hospital for treatment to be treated by an unvaccinated member of staff, when they have to be treated by someone who is vaccinated in their own care home. It doesn’t make any sense," he said.

“ I believe in the vaccine and I think everyone should have it, but I think it's a personal choice.”

A Department of Health and Social care spokeswoman said more than 90 per cent of care home staff have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

She added: “We encourage even more staff to get vaccinated to protect their colleagues and those they care for.

“Temporarily, those who meet the criteria for a medical exemption will be able to self-certify until we introduce a new system.

“This will ensure those with medical exemptions can continue working in care homes.

“Our message is clear: vaccines save lives and it is our responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the risk for vulnerable people in care homes.”